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News Releases from Region 03

EPA Announces Innovative Mussel Research to Address Water Quality Issues

Contact Information: 
Katherine Wzorek (

PHILADELPHIA (August 22, 2017) –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a new project today to develop innovative methods to improve our understanding of the distribution of freshwater mussels. EPA will partner with the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in this effort.

The project is one of 14 research projects announced today by EPA addressing priority environmental and human health problems through partnerships among EPA’s research office, regional offices, and states.

“EPA encourages the use of innovative scientific approaches to help solve important environmental problems,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “By working with our state partners and engaging the public we can foster creative solutions to these challenges.”

Freshwater mussels improve water quality by filtering and sequestering pollutants and suspended particulates, nutrient cycling, and removing harmful toxins and pathogens that are threats to public health. Currently, it takes extensive time, effort, and money to assess mussel populations, but now it is possible to monitor mussels by collecting water and/or sediment samples and analyze for their DNA.

This new method of detecting mussel populations lowers the level of effort in traditional freshwater mussel assessments and will help provide an early warning system for water quality changes, act as sensors for drinking water, and help promote mussel restoration and management in regional watersheds.

The research announced today is designed to address pressing environmental issues faced by the states. EPA is uniquely equipped to provide scientific expertise to help tackle these problems.  The selected projects focus on non-point source nitrogen pollution, volatile organic compounds, harmful algal blooms, roadway air pollution, and other environmental and human health issues across the country.

The projects will employ innovative approaches including citizen science, crowdsourcing, a challenge competition, and advanced monitoring technologies.

Learn more about this and the other projects at: